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Kathleen Coyne Kelly

Professor of English

Kelly’s research follows three paths that often cross, and cross-fertilize: 1) The literature and culture of the Western European Middle Ages, with two foci: the romance, and eco-theoretical readings of medieval texts; 2) The afterlives of the Middle Ages: since the early modern period, the Middle Ages has been continuously invoked and imitated as well as idealized and distorted, resulting in both problems and pleasures; 3) Environmental Humanities and Environmental History, with a focus on literary and visual representations of landscape and anthropogenic change.

Kelly is finishing a book on Thoreau’s Journal drawings, which she sees as integral to his growth as a nature writer. Moreover, attending to the drawings is one way to shift our attention from reading the Journal to looking at it. She has developed a beta version of a public, online, searchable and annotatable archive containing all the drawings that he included in his Journal (Thoreau’s Journal Drawings). The Shop at Walden Pond sells her field notebook (with a brief introduction to the genre of field notes) featuring Thoreau’s drawings.

In collaboration with three other medievalists, she is also finishing a book on heritage tourism—with a focus on place, history, and invented history—connected to so-called Arthurian sites in the U.K., Germany, and the U.S.

Kelly’s medieval scholarship has appeared in Allegorica, Arthuriana, Assays, The Chaucer Review, ELN, Exemplaria,Parergon, postmedieval, Studies in Philology, and The Year’s Work in Studies in Medievalism, and as chapters in several essay collections. She is the author of Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages and A. S. Byatt; co-editor (with Marina Leslie) of Menacing Virgins: Representing Virginity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance; co-editor (with Tison Pugh) of Queer Movie Medievalisms and Chaucer on Screen: Absence, Presence, and Adapting the Canterbury Tales.

She serves as Editor of The Concord Saunterer, the Thoreau Society’s peer-reviewed journal featuring essays about Thoreau, his times and contemporaries, and his continuing influence.

Related Schools & Departments


Course catalog
  • Focuses on a particular aspect of medieval or Renaissance British literature, such as medieval romance or Renaissance representations of gender and sexuality.

  • Science Fiction

    ENGL 2520

    Traces the development of various science fiction themes, conventions, and approaches (human vs. machine, human/machine hybrids, alien encounters, colonizing other worlds, dystopian and postapocalyptic futures). Examines how science fiction explores what it means to be human and how self- and group identities are formed when measured against the idea of the non- or other-than-human.

  • Topics in Literature and Other Disciplines. The other-than-human-world: ecotheories and new materialisms

    ENGL 7358

    Examines such subjects as literature and the visual arts, literature and psychology, and literary impressionism.

  • May consider the following: Anglo Saxon literature (including poems such as Beowulf, Judith, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and a selection of prose); the poems of the Pearl Poet (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness); women and/in the Middle Ages; medieval literature and medievalism; the medieval romance, Malory’s Morte Darthur; religious, mystical, and didactic works; medieval travel literature; or William Langland’s Piers Plowman.

  • What is Nature?

    ENGL 2620

    Focuses on a variety of texts (imaginative literature, memoir, scientific writing, creative nonfiction, and popular journalism) that take nature, ecology, and the environment as their subject. Examines paintings, photography, and other visual representations (such as computer simulations) of the natural world. Taught in Boston or in the United Kingdom.

  • Writing Seminar – Nature Writing

    ENGL 3380

    Offers writers an opportunity to hone their skills in a workshop focused on a particular topic or form, such as advocacy writing, public policy writing, autobiography and memoir, rhetoric for writers, speculative fiction, or screenwriting.